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Whether you’re learning Spanish, French, Chinese or Welsh, the benefits of learning a language are hard to deny.
Learning a language is about more than conjugating verbs, memorising vocabulary and knowing your past participles from your prepositions, it’s about developing your understanding of a culture or society much unlike your own. This allows you to broaden your horizons, understand new perspectives and learn more about the world we live in. Once you’re over the language barrier you’ll find that travel is not only easier but more rewarding too as you’ll be able to connect with the people you meet.
Speaking a foreign tongue isn’t the only benefit of learning a language! Languages give your brain a great workout, improving your memory as well as your listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Translating your thoughts into another language (and understanding someone else) can feel like one great big puzzle, sometimes you have to get creative when you’re trying to communicate an idea that doesn’t translate literally, especially when you’re just starting out. Your communication skills will certainly improve, your approach to problem-solving will evolve, and you’ll learn more about how you learn - that is, what styles and methods work best for you. By breaking down another language into verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions, you’ll learn more about your own first language and build your vocabulary too.
Employers and university admissions officers often look through hundreds of applications and CVs for each place; fluency in another language makes you stand out from the crowd. In some career paths speaking another language will really help you to get ahead, for example translator, journalist, travel writer, diplomat. In other positions, your language skills may not be necessary for day-to-day tasks, but demonstrate your ability to multitask, your communication skills and self-discipline.
For some, learning a language is purely a leisure activity. The act of learning is not only enjoyable in itself but can unlock a whole world of literature and media for you to understand in its original language.
It’s hard to deny that learning a language is hugely beneficial both professionally and personally, but which one do you learn?
If you can’t decide which foreign language to learn, consider your personal goals and which language would support you in achieving them. Are you motivated by career options, prospective friends, travel, literature? For many, the popularity of the language is a key consideration, which is why Spanish is such a popular language to learn!
There are more than 400 million native speakers of Spanish making it the second most spoken language in the world. It’s also the third most learned language with around 9 million people speaking Spanish as a second language. Spanish is spoken across North, South and Central America, Europe and Africa and is the official language of 20 countries including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rico and Paraguay (to name a few). This means that Spanish learners will have no shortage of opportunities to practise their language skills whether they’re learning Spanish for work, holidays, or just to expand their vocabulary beyond dos cervezas por favor.
If that’s not enough convince you, Spanish is a romance language (derived from Latin) so some words are cognates or near-cognates (the same as) English words and it shares the same alphabet too. This makes it a more manageable language for English speakers to learn.
How you learn Spanish depends on age and ability, but many of us dabble in languages at school even if we don’t continue into later studies. For most young people Spanish is often offered as a language option in their school, they can learn from a young age and even choose to pursue higher education studies in Spanish and or a career which requires their language skills.
In schools you often have plenty of opportunities for reading, writing and listening practice, but with large class sizes the opportunity to practise conversation is often quite limited. As a result, many young people use platforms such as Superprof to seek classes with a private tutor or native speaker so that they can hone their speaking and conversation skills for their Spanish exams.
Often, having neglected our foreign language skills as youngsters, wisdom, necessity or curiosity about other cultures leave us wishing in hindsight that we’d paid more attention in our Spanish classes! But all is not lost and you’re never too old to start learning something new; there are a huge range of avenues to explore for learning Spanish outside of formal education.
One of the most effective ways to learn a new language is by completely immersing yourself speaking, reading, writing and listening to that language. Often budding linguistics will sign up to an intensive course in a country that speaks their target language so that they can practise using the grammar and vocabulary that they learn in their studies. Due to their intensive nature, these courses are often expensive and are only a viable option if you can take the time off work to attend.
Those with unlimited time and limited funds may choose to do a work-away or an exchange abroad to immerse themselves in the language. This can be a lifechanging experience but discipline is essential – it’s all to easy to fall into an anglophone bubble, even when living in a Spanish speaking country!
With any immersive learning experience it’s important to keep practising when you return home, either by attending classes, joining a Spanish conversation club or group, watching Spanish films or TV, reading Spanish books and keeping in touch with native speakers that you have met on your travels.
Evening classes can be an excellent alternative if you can’t travel abroad or commit time and money to intensive courses to pursue your studies. Evening classes often meet once a week for 1- 2 hours and are targeted to ability level, usually offering beginner, intermediate or advanced level groups. Evening classes are often provided by community centres and language schools. Retired learners might try their local U3A, whereas university students might find a Spanish society offering beginner classes.
The benefit of evening classes is often their affordability, but with this come a few compromises. You often pay upfront for each term so any lessons you miss will not be refunded. The classes will move at the pace of the whole group, so you’re at risk of either twiddling your thumbs or feeling left behind. Finally, group sizes and time limitations often mean you have limited opportunities for actually speaking Spanish, which is a priority for many learners.
One solution to this may be to supplement your Spanish evening class by participating in an exchange with a native speaker or attending a Spanish speaking club, but the most efficient use of your valuable learning time is to study Spanish with a private tutor.
Learning Spanish with a private tutor is the most efficient and effective route to fluency. Not only do you determine the pace of the class, but you can also focus on areas that interest you or best suit your aspirations and needs. School students might choose to work on their essay skills with their private tutor or benefit from the opportunity to have one-to-one conversations with a fluent Spanish speaker – a rare opportunity in the classroom! One of the biggest benefits of seeking private tuition is that you get detailed feedback from an expert, this helps you to stay motivated and focuses your learning outside of class.
You can pay for your classes on a lesson-by-lesson basis and time them to fit into your schedule. By learning over the internet, you can meet your tutor wherever you want no matter their location – speak Spanish with an Andalusian or Murcian from the comfort of your sofa!
Interested in learning Spanish with a private tutor? Here’s how to find one…
Language tutors advertise all over the place: community notices, university notice boards, local language schools, gumtree, Facebook… you could even just go on Google and type ‘private Spanish tutors online’. But why not make things simple and use Superprof?
Superprof is a platform dedicated to bringing learners and teachers together. We have a pool of over 11,000 online private Spanish tutors from a range of backgrounds. Each tutor sets their rates according to their experience and the level taught so you can easily filter your search results to display a price range that suits your budget.
Superprof tutor profiles are formatted to make comparison easy. Read through your prospective tutor’s background, methodology and recommendations from previous students to get a good sense of their teaching style. If that’s not enough, most tutors offer a first lesson for free so that you can gauge whether it’s a good fit.
Finally, Superprof tutors are passionate about sharing their knowledge and helping you to learn, and you can’t get better support than that when you’re learning a new language.
Dust off your Cervantes, practise rolling your Rs and browse through our pool of Spanish tutors today!
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